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A Hard Day's Night

I went back and reread previous blog posts, and I don't really sound like much of a Beatles fan at all. But rest assured, things quickly turned around with the introduction of BRUUUUUM...

At the peak of my Beatles fandom in the mid-1990's (the teenage years coincide with pretty much everyone's peak fandom of whatever they happen to be into, I assume), the Beatles Anthology was a big deal. It was this mini-series documentary with accompanying double-CD albums for you to play along at home. I was definitely too poor at the time to buy the albums. Double-CDs? What am I, made of money? But I did have cable TV, and AMC (long before the days of mad men and zombies) used to play classic movies, and they played the Beatles movies on a continuous loop to try to catch some of the anthology audience. I remember waiting patiently for the next scheduled showing of "A Hard Day's Night," finger poised on the VCR remote, trying to get a perfect recording. I fell in love with the movie and the Beatles themselves, and I ended up saving up my hard-earned Chinese buffet-hostessing money to buy the soundtrack on CD.

I can't possibly listen to this album without imagery from the film running through my mind. I've seen it so many times I have it memorized. The first 7 tracks were all featured in the movie, plus you get side 2 with 6 more songs. I'll approach side 1 by following along with the movie.

Note: I had a bad sinus infection at the end of March, and finally got a chance to sit down and watch the movie on my sick day. (I tried to watch it with the boys, but for some reason, they are legit terrified of black and white movies. They were also afraid of the grandpa, who I admit is the weakest part of the movie, although I guess he is necessary to give it a plot.) For your blog-reading pleasure, I took lots of poor quality pics of key moments. Enjoy!

1. "A Hard Day's Night"

That opening chord! Ringo's malapropism! (Although I've heard this song title so many times for so long that it totally sounds like a normal turn of phrase to me. You had a hard day, now it is night. I get it.) This song is a classic and the opening sequence of this movie is a classic. Fun fact: during the course of my 3 weeks of listening to this album, Charlie managed to learn (most of) the words. He hilariously swapped the line "you know I work all day to get you money to buy you things" with "you know I wait all day to get my mommy to buy me things." The boys only made it through approximately 6 minutes of the movie, but they did continuously talk about how crazy it was when Paul peeled off his fake beard.

2. "I Should Have Known Better"

In the film, the guys play this song in a train car for some school girls, who are thankfully not screaming the entire time. Fun fact: one of these gals is Patti Boyd, who famously married George, then eventually left him for Eric Clapton.

I'm also including this picture of George, who reminds me so much of Levon here that I can't get over it. Levon is TOTALLY a George.

 3. "If I Fell"

John is damn adorable singing this one. I am not really an audio nerd, so I didn't think I would notice anything related to the audio, but the stereo version of the album included in the box set sounds SUPER WEIRD to my ears. The mix on the harmonies at the beginning of the song are really echo-y and funny and I ended up having to temporarily switch back to my trusty mono version.

 4. "I'm Happy Just to Dance with You"

You gotta love a George song. George is portrayed as the awkward yet chatty one throughout the film, so I like that his narrative here is that he just wants to dance.

I also love this song due to it's usage in the long-forgotten TGIF sitcom, "Just the Ten of Us." I really wished I had beautiful teen sisters who would form a girl group with me to sing karaoke songs in a pizzeria. I tried to scour the internet for video of this, but there is just not much evidence of this show's existence. Instead, here is a hilarious Twitter account that sets random movie trailers to the show's theme song: @justthetenofus

 5. "And I Love Her"

The way this is filmed with the spotlights and Paul's sweetie pie face. GAH! This is an original, but it is definitely recorded in the style of their cover of "Till There Was You" from their previous album.

6. "Tell Me Why"

They reserved this one for the concert scene. I think this scene gives a pretty good representation of the types of teenage Beatles fan: the screamer and the crier. My personal favorite is the girl weeping and mouthing the name "George." Note: I definitely would have been a crier.

7. "Can't Buy Me Love"

This song is stellar. This is also the part about 2/3 of the way through the movie in which the boys adorably run and play in a field.

As you may have also guessed, I'm also a HUGE fan of the 1980's film of the same name.

Let's also pause for a moment before leaving the movie behind to mention Ringo, who weirdly doesn't sing any of the songs on this album, but is arguably the VIP of the film. The central "conflict" centers on him, and he basically endures being harassed by his bandmates and the weird grandpa throughout the movie. Plus, he reminds me so much of Charlie, who is TOTALLY a Ringo.

8. "Any Time at All"

So begins side 2, the non-movie tracks. There seems to be a noticeable dip in quality once we are on side 2, but maybe it's just because there's no accompanying visual. There is probably lots of research on this music video effect (for example, is the song "Thriller" even all that GOOD? It's impossible to say, because you literally cannot separate it in your mind from the groundbreaking music video.) Anyway, "Any Time At All" has the unfortunate luck of being right after "Can't Buy Me Love," which is an objectively better song that was also filmed in a cool way. Sorry about that, "Any Time At All."

9. "I'll Cry Instead"

Too bad this was scrapped for inclusion in the movie, because it's a great song. But I gotta wonder, was John really on the verge of tears the entire time they were filming? Because his off-the-cuff wise-cracking throughout the movie seems so vibrant and fun.

10. "Things We Said Today"

This one was penned primarily by Paul. It is a non-essential but pretty solid pop tune.

11. "When I Get Home"

Now we're back to John and a more rocking vibe. "I'm gonna love her till the cows come home" is a really terrible line, though. If say, Nick Jonas, put out a new song with this line in it, I would mock him relentlessly.

12. "You Can't Do That"

On one hand, this is a pretty decent, catchy song. But it has dark underpinnings, especially since we know that John was not only a jerk, but also a jealous (possibly abusive) partner. Jealousy is a theme that runs throughout his catalog, and this is just one example.

13. "I'll Be Back"

This is an interesting fade out album closer. We kinda steer away from the early pop songs into deeper waters...can't wait for the next album!

This is the clear front-runner for best Beatles album so far. It's the first one with all-original tunes (so long, random rock n' roll covers!), and there are at least 3-4 classic tracks.

I'm not very eloquent and definitely not the best writer, so if you want a lovely review of the film, I urge you to read Roger Ebert's Great Movie review. An aside: I didn't really discover Roger Ebert's reviews (outside of his show with Gene Siskel) until I graduated from college, but once I did, I religiously read all of his movie reviews every Friday, whether I wanted to see a movie or not. For a movie that I already knew I loved, like "A Hard Day's Night," it's like he was able to articulate all the reasons I loved it that I just couldn't put into words myself. He could articulate a feeling, and maybe that's why he was so great at his job, and why I miss reading his words so much.


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